from Rainer Funk

Michael Maccoby, Erich Fromm’s longtime collaborator, died on November 5, 2022 in Washington DC at the age of 89.

He devoted himself to researching the character of society like no other student of Fromm. He conducted studies in the USA and many other countries and applied Fromm’s social psychological findings primarily to questions of leadership.
After completing his doctorate in Social Relations at Harvard University in 1960, he became Fromm’s colleague through David Riesman. He was significantly involved in research into the
The social character of a Mexican village. With it, Fromm provided empirical evidence for his social character theory. Together with his wife Sandylee, he lived in Mexico from 1960 to 1968; he was analyzed by Fromm and trained as a psychoanalyst.
After his return to the USA, Maccoby used his in-depth knowledge of the social sciences and psychoanalysis to research the biophilia and necrophilia of managers; in 1976, the book The Gamesman was published, in which Maccoby presented new faces of the marketing orientation described by Fromm. He led the “Technology, Work, and Character” project for many years. A detailed overview of his work can be found on his website:

The fact that Erich Fromm’s thinking has remained alive in the USA in business, politics and management and has been fertilized anew is primarily thanks to Michael Maccoby. The international symposium organized by him and Mauricio Cortina in Washington in 1994, which was attended by Fromm researchers from many countries around the world, is unforgettable. He gave the opening lecture at a similar event, namely the 1st International Erich Fromm Research Conference in 2014, which was organized by the International Psychoanalytic University in Berlin.Maccoby Michael 2022 0618
I first met Michael Maccoby in person in 1981 in Dubrovnik at a conference organized by the Yugoslav philosophers around the magazine “Praxis”. In 1983, I visited him personally in Washington. An altogether very fruitful collaboration took its course. In 1987, he introduced a group of young scientists from the Fromm Society in Bielefeld to social character research. In the years that followed, he followed their empirical study on the different character development of West German and East German primary school teachers (“The Character Wall” study) with great interest.

There was one last reunion for me via ZOOM on June 18, 2022, where friends of Michael Maccoby paid tribute to his life’s work in commemorative articles. Three of his four children were among the more than 50 participants. Above all, however, there were many of his students and colleagues who were inspired by his findings in their own research and who will continue to draw on these insights.

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